JUNEAU – In an effort to resolve the current legislative stalemate that threatens to shut down government services, Governor Bill Walker Monday introduced to members of all four caucuses a compromise fiscal package. The proposed package stabilizes the economy using bills that have already been introduced and considered: Oil and gas tax credit reform (House Bill 111), education head tax (Senate Bill 12), motor fuels tax (House Bill 60/Senate Bill 25), Permanent Fund Protection Act (Senate Bill 26), operating and mental health trust budget (House Bill 57/House Bill 59), and capital budget (Senate Bill 23).
“I will be the first to admit that this package will not please everyone,” Governor Walker said. “In fact, there are pieces I don’t like. But we must all give a little to ensure a viable plan is in place well before July 1. Otherwise, government services—like issuing fishing permits, continuing ferry runs and addressing consumer protection issues—will be shut down. Alaskans deserve to have their elected officials come together in true compromise. This session cannot be determined by whose caucus won, otherwise all Alaskans will lose. We must pull together to end the uncertainty that hangs over classrooms, families and our future.”
Under the proposal:
- The House is assured a status-quo operating budget, a broad-based tax structure, and the end of cashable oil and gas credits. In return, it must accept a smaller dividend, as well as less revenue and progressivity, and limited oil and gas reform.
- The Senate gets its version of SB 26, close to its version of HB 111 and is able to make larger payments to the oil and gas industry for tax credits but has to concede a modest broad-based tax structure and adopt the House’s operating budget.
- The state gets a level of fiscal stability but must continue significant spending restraint.
“Last year, we had a deficit of at least $3.7 billion, and with this compromise, we will have a $300 million shortfall,” Governor Walker said. “All of the tools necessary to address this fiscal crisis are currently on the table. This compromise averts a shutdown in government services, provides greater long-term revenue stability and creates a foundation upon which we can build our future. There is no reason the legislature cannot reach a compromise within the next 10 days.”
Source: State of Alaska